The Justice Department said Monday it opposes the release of an FBI affidavit justifying a search warrant used to seize documents at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida last week.
While DOJ had publicly asked the court to release the search warrant last week, the department said in a filing Monday that the affidavit “presents a very different set of considerations.”
“There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that supports keeping the affidavit sealed,” the department said in a filing in a Florida court.
The department responded to a request filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch and some media organizations seeking the release of all materials related to the unprecedented search of the former president’s residence, which resulted in the seizure of 11 sets of classified documents.
Last week, a Florida judge released the search warrant and list of material seized during the search after a request from the Justice Department that Trump didn’t oppose. But the underlying affidavit would reveal the most extensive information used to justify the action, possibly including sources used by FBI agents and details about the documents and classified information.
Releasing an affidavit at this stage of an investigation would be highly unusual and require a federal judge’s approval. Unlike the warrant itself and the seizure receipt, which the FBI gave to Trump’s lawyer during the Aug. 8 search, and he was free to share after, Trump wouldn’t have seen a copy of that document.
The FBI’s seizure of classified material from Trump has thrown US politics into turmoil. Court filings revealed the former president may be under investigation for mishandling government records and potentially compromising national security information.
The list of information seized during the search includes documents that bore the US government’s highest top-secret rating, and prosecutors indicated they are exploring possible violations of the federal Espionage Act, among other allegations. The FBI seized “TS/SCI documents,” which stands for top-secret and sensitive compartmented information, a government label for material gathered through sensitive intelligence sources or methods.